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LCpl Chopper V

      In 1974, the Commanding General, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Major General Gourley presented a Golden Retriever to the 1st MAW Band. The puppy was subsequently adopted as the Band's official mascot and given the name Chopper. He is an official 'Marine' with an enlistment contract, dog tags, SSN, SRB, and uniforms.  Unfortunately, Chopper suffered an untimely death at the wheels of an Iwakuni taxi. Upon hearing the news, the CG presented the band with another puppy from the same litter, subsequently named Chopper II.
      In 1978, when the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Band from Iwakuni merged with the 3d Marine Division Band from Okinawa, it was re-designated as the III Marine Amphibious Band and assigned to Camp Foster, Okinawa. Chopper II received orders along with the rest of the band members and came along. Fast forward to April, 1989; SSgt Chopper II is the subject of a formal Relief and Appointment ceremony with Chopper III. Following Chopper II's passing, his remains were taken to Naha and cremated. His remains currently reside in the III MEF Band facility in a specially prepared 105mm shell casing along with his burial urn, Dress Blues, and Service Record Book.
      On June2002, GySgt Chopper III ailing and in poor health, was retired and had to be put down. The Band Officer at the time, CWO Jim Ford, screened several applicants from Karing Kennels to find a candidate that could fill GySgt Chopper III's 'shoes' and represent the III MEF Band as its mascot. Historically, Chopper has been a full-bred Golden Retriever, keeping with the original Chopper. After careful consideration, a puppy retriever/collie mix was chosen and adopted as Private Chopper IV. On 21 June 2002, Private Chopper IV assumed the duties as III MEF Band Mascot. Once Pvt Chopper IV learned to make proper head calls outside, he was promoted to Private First Class. He received several promotions and eventually earned the rank of Staff Sergeant. Sadly, SSgt Chopper IV passed away during surgery the day after his retirement on 25 April 2013.
      A full-bred golden retriever puppy, Chopper V, was selected in November 2012 by the III MEF Band members. He was promoted to the rank of Private First Class in May of 2014, and then a year later he was promoted again to Lance Corporal in May 2015. LCpl Chopper happily follows in the paw prints of the III MEF Band mascots before him.